If you would have told me that without Anze Kopitar and with a 80% Justin Williams that the Los Angeles Kings would take the Pacific Division Champions to 6 games in the 1st round of the playoffs... with 3 of those games ending in overtime... and with one of those games losing a 4 goal lead... then I would have said you were a fool. A damn fool!
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Fool me 3 times in OT, well... we're fools.
Kings 3, Sharks 4
The Kings did much better than anyone who wasn't a crazy fanboy thought they would. The Kings played hard, but couldn't play with a lead. Luckily, after the game, Coach Murray did his best to distract anyone from talking about the Kings failure to close out games.
"Hey Kyle, great series. Listen have you seen your Coach?
He's about 6'2", grey hair... no facial expressions."
"I ate him."
If there was one great thing to come out of this 1st round series, it was these guys.
Kyle Clifford, Brad Richardson and Wayne Simmonds was the one line that Coach Murray kept consistent throughout the playoffs. This line delivered all that it could in this series, only being shut down in Game 6 once the Sharks started to pay attention to them. Chemistry is key in the sport of hockey, and with the way this line has played over the last 2 weeks, Brad Richardson just may have earned himself a multi-year contract with the Kings... or another NHL team that will totally overpay for him based on his playoff performance.
Brad Richardson picks a very inopportune time to
re-create his favorite scene from The Shawshank Redemption.
There will be changes for this team over the summer. You have to assume that Michal Handzus has played his last game for the Kings. With the emergence of Trevor Lewis, Handzus is no longer needed on this team. Brayden Schenn is waiting in the wings (or in the centers) to make this team in the fall which could mean that Jarret Stoll is on his way out of Holllywood to discover a whole new batch of women to bang. Anze Kopitar will return healthy and the Kings top line could easily be Kopitar, Justin Williams and Dustin Penner... assuming Dustin Penner doesn't retire over the summer based on a complete lack of interest in the sport of ice hockey.
"I know, Dustin... It's called a goal! You were brought here to score them.
My 80% is your 250%."
The defense for this team is set for a while. Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson, Matt Greene, Rob Scuderi, Alec Martinez and Willie Mitchell should be back for next season, with only Doughty and Martinez as RFA's. Sure, this defense collapsed in Games 3 and 4, but they also showed how strong they could be in Games 2, 5 and 6. Jon Quick has established himself as a big game, elite NHL goaltender... so this may be the summer Jon Bernier gets traded. I imagine a few teams could use a goalie.
Why did it have to be Joe Thornton?
Even with the Ghost of Wayne Gretzky (and the real Wayne Gretzky) in attendance... and even with an awful blown call on a high stick (We all know it was Wayne Simmonds and not Joe Thornton who took out Brad Richardson's tooth)... the Kings couldn't win Game 6. And Joe Thornton showed the world just how uncomfortable being a clutch player he is...
Somewhere, Theo Fleury shakes his head and says
"You call that a game winning goal celebration?"
Even when everyone is saying that Kings fans should hold their head up high because the future is bright... it's still hard. It feels like the future has been bright for 2 years now. And quite honestly, this NHL playoffs was a total wash for the Kings because of the loss of Anze Kopitar. Coach Murray will be back next season. Which means that Power Play Coach and Kings fan whipping boy Jamie Kompon will probably be back as well. GM Dean Lombardi may tweak the roster a bit this summer, but in all likelyhood the core of this team will remain. Thankfully, the St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs didn't make the playoffs this year... so the tradition of Stanley Cup droughts continues.
It could be worse. I guess.
Thanks to the Los Angeles Kings for keeping me invested in this team for the past 6 months. Thanks to Half Season Ticket Holder Buddy for being my Half Season Ticket Holder Buddy for the past 9 years, through thick and thin. Thanks to Indiana Matt, Jersey Brian and Twitter Doug for getting caught up in Los Angeles Kings Fever. Thanks to all the great Kings blogs out there that continue to cover this team with a passion unmatched in the NHL. And thanks to you, the loyal readers of The Royal Half. Thanks for reading this silly blog, thanks for commenting on these silly posts and thanks for being silly with me on Twitter. This battle is long from over... and we will always have this to remind us of what the ultimate goal is.